US 6884615 B2
A microplate having a base and wells is disclosed. The base has mark parts at least on one edge thereof. Each mark part is defined by notches cut in the edge of the base. The wells are provided in the base and arranged in rows and columns. The mark parts can be used as indicia for identifying not only the microplate but also the wells so that the microplate and the wells can be easily identified without writing numerals or marks on the edges of the base with a felt pen or the like.
1. A microplate comprising:
a base having mark parts at least on one edge thereof, each mark part being defined by notches cut in said edge; and
a plurality of wells provided in the base and arranged in rows and columns.
2. A microplate according to
3. A microplate according to
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a microplate for use in examining samples in the course of clinical examination, DNA analysis and the like.
2. Description of the Related Art
Microplates are vessels widely used in clinical examination, DNA analysis and the like. A microplate has a well, in which a small amount of a liquid sample or a liquid reagent may be contained. There is known such a method that a liquid sample contained in the well of a microplate is subjected to a reaction such as heat cycle or centrifugal separation, a light beam is applied to the liquid sample, and the intensity of the light passing through the sample is measured to determine the results of the reaction. In this method, the composition of the sample and the content of each component thereof can be determined. Inasmuch as a very small amount of a sample or a reagent is required in this method, the method is widely employed to examine blood or urine in diagnosis, to perform DNA analysis, and other clinical examination.
In such a method, it is necessary to divide the same sample into small portions so as to react each of the divided samples with various reagents, respectively, to perform various items of examination. Alternatively, various samples are reacted with the same reagent to conduct one item of examination. To carry out such examination with high efficiency, microplates of the type shown in
The any adjacent cells of the same row or the same column are spaced apart by 9 mm. The microplate 1 shown in
The analysis using the microplates 1 is performed on various samples contained in the wells 2 of the microplate 1. Usually, a plurality of microplates 1 are used, subjecting the samples contained in them to various processes, such as heat cycle and centrifugal separation, which are carried out one after another. Since the samples held in one microplate 1 are different from those held in another microplate 1, it is important to identify any microplate 1 easily. To this end, serial numbers or ID marks are written on the bases 3 of the microplates 1 with felt pens or the like.
It is equally important to identify the sample contained in each well 2 of any microplate. Numbers are therefore printed on a long edge of the microplate 1, indicating the columns of wells 2, and letters a short edge of the microplate 1 to indicate the rows of wells 2, as is illustrated in FIG. 6B. Such a method of identifying the samples is disclosed in Jpn. UM. Appln. Publication No. 5-13399.
As described above, a number or mark is written with felt pens on the base 3 of each microplate 1 to identify each microplate 1 and to identify the wells 2 of the microplate 1. However, the number or mark is liable to erase when the microplate 1 is exposed heat, vapor or organic solvent or accessed to by a person or any instrument during the processes of analyzing the samples contained in the wells 2. If this happens, it will be difficult to identify the microplate 1 and to identify any well 2 with its position on the microplate 1. Most microplates 1 are made of polypropylene resin, because this material excels in heat resistance and for some other reasons. Felt-pen ink can hardly firmly stick to anything made of polypropylene. Therefore, the number or mark written in the ink is easily rubbed off as the rubber-gloved hands touch the base 3 of the microplate 1. In this case, the rubber gloves are stained with the ink. If any person handles the microplate 1 while putting on the ink-stained rubber gloves, the liquid samples may be contaminated. Moreover, when the microplate 1 is exposed to heat, the volatile component of the ink may evaporate, and the number or mark will disappear. The volatile component may be dissolved into the liquid samples, inevitably influencing the results of analysis. Obviously it is troublesome to write the number or mark with felt pens on the base 3 of the microplate 1. If several microplates 1 are stuck one upon another, which often occurs during the analysis, the number or mark written on any microplate 1 laid beneath another can hardly be seen from above. Furthermore, one column number is likely to be taken for another, causing errors in identifying the wells 2, because the column numbers are printed at short intervals on the long edge of the microplate 1.
The present invention has been made to solve the problems pointed out above. A first object of the invention is to provide a microplate that can be easily distinguished from any other. A second object of the invention is to provide a microplate with which it is easy to identify the wells.
A microplate according to the present invention comprises: a base having mark parts at least on one edge thereof, each mark part being defined by notches cut in the one edge; and a plurality of wells provided in the base and arranged in rows and columns.
In an embodiment of the microplate of the invention, some of the mark parts may be aligned with the rows of wells, respectively, and the remaining mark parts may be aligned with the columns of wells, respectively.
In another embodiment of the microplate of this invention, each of the wells may have a rim at the upper end, and the wells of every other row or every other column are different in color from the base.
How the microplate 1 of the structure shown in
Microplates 1 according to the first embodiment were made for test, using polypropylene. In the test, one of the mark parts 5 of each microplate was bent to identify the microplate. The microplates 1 were then used at temperatures ranging from −80° C. to 125° C. The mark part 5 of every microplate tested remained bent in the original state.
The mark part 5 of the microplate 1 may be cut off. If so, the microplate 1 cannot be identified because the absence of the mark part 5 is a somewhat less conspicuous than a mark part 5 bent when the microplate 1 is viewed from the side. Nonetheless, the absence of the mark part 5 can be well ascertained when the microplate 1 is viewed slantwise.
A microplate 1 according to the second embodiment of the invention will be described with reference to FIG. 3. The components similar or identical to those of the first embodiment are designated at the same reference numerals and will not be described in detail. In the second embodiment, the base 3 has mark parts 5 provided at the four edges 3 a of the microplate 1, not in only one edge as in the first embodiment. The mark parts 5 provided in the long edges 3 a serve to identify the columns of wells. The mark parts 5 provided at the short edges 3 a serve to identify the rows of wells. Thus, the mark parts 5 provided at the neighboring edges 3 a can serve to identify the individual wells in the same way as in the first embodiment. In addition, two mark parts 5, one provided at one edge 3 a and the other provided at the neighboring edge 3 a, to identify the microplate 1. This method can identify the well in 240 ways at most, because the base of the microplate 1 has 40 mark parts as shown in
As explained above and as shown in
The present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above. For example, the arrangement of wells is not limited to the above-mentioned 8 row×12 column layout. Rather, the wells can be arranged in any number of rows and any number of columns as is desired. The wells may be arranged, for example, in three rows and three columns, thus forming a substantially square matrix of wells.
The shapes of the mark parts 5 is not limited to that applied in the first, second and third embodiments. The mark parts 5 can be modified in various ways.
As described above, the base 3 is a flat plate in the first, second and third embodiments. Alternatively, the base 3 may have side walls that project downwards from the four edges 3 a. In this case, mark parts 5 can be provided in the side walls.
As has been described, the microplate according to the first embodiment of the present invention has mark parts provided at one or more edges of the base, which are used to identify the microplate. Hence, neither a serial number nor an ID mark needs to be written with a felt pen on the microplate to identify the microplate. (A serial number or an ID mark, if written, may be rubbed off, making it impossible to identify the microplate.) Formed integral with the microplate, the mark parts serves as three-dimensional indicia for the microplate. Even if many microplates are laid one upon another, the mark parts can be seen when the microplates are viewed sideways. This facilitates the identifying of each microplate.
The microplate according to the second embodiment of this invention has mark parts provided at the edges of the base, some of the mark parts aligned with the rows of wells and the remaining mark parts aligned with the columns of wells. The mark parts can therefore be used as indicia that serve to identify not only the microplate but also the respective wells. If any two mark parts are used, one provided at one edge and the other provided at the neighboring edge, the wells can be identified in 2n ways at most, where n is the number mark parts provided.
The microplate according to the third embodiment of this invention has mark parts provided at the edges of the base, some of the mark parts aligned with the rows of wells and the remaining mark parts aligned with the columns of wells. Further, the rims of the wells of every other column are colored. Hence, people can visually identify the wells more easily than with the microplate according to the second embodiment.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in the light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.